*This blog post was originally written for the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
I am fascinated by the mindset of high performers regardless of their profession. Because I am a sports nut, I am particularly drawn to the champion mindset of athletes. How are the very best able to achieve at such high levels? For me, it’s fun to listen to these high performers share their background and insight on what has made them so successful. There is no singular path or right way. There are no hacks, tricks or secrets. If you listen to these high performers, you will see consistent themes that weave through their minds. And the great thing is this high-performing mindset is available to everyone. We all have it in us. You do not need to be the most gifted or talented to improve your performance dramatically with the most optimized internal mindset.
It is no surprise soccer star Mia Hamm’s keynote at the recent Greater Des Moines Partnership Annual Dinner was a treasure trove on how to optimize your mindset for high performance. But it was surprising to hear her confession to the audience that she suffers from self-confidence issues. This hurdle did not stop her from becoming perhaps the greatest soccer player of her generation garnering two World Cup championships and two Olympic championships, becoming a 4X NCAA champion and two-time FIFA Player of the Year and retiring as the leading goal scorer in international play. How did she accomplish all of this? Her focused mindset undoubtedly set her apart and helped her overcome any doubts she had about herself.
Achieving in Sports + In Life
Some of Hamm’s key takeaways on how to achieve at an elite level.
- You must learn how to work. It is important to get comfortable with being uncomfortable as you push yourself beyond limits. You cannot be afraid to fail. Hamm started on the national team at the age of 15 and realized “she was not very good.” But fortunately, her winning mindset pushed her to continue working hard through all the ups and downs.
- You must make the decision to flip on the light switch every day. Most only do it part of the time. It must be an all the time thing.
- Each day will throw obstacles at you. Do not let these obstacles throw you off from your goals. Be flexible and adapt in difficult situations.
- It can be lonely at the top. Lots of people will want you to conform. You may be viewed as different or strange. You must be OK with this and comfortable in your own skin.
- How do you elevate over other elites? You need to find a way to improve in some aspect of the game/profession every day. There can be no wasted opportunities. The best players are always on. It just matters to them more. Do not just seek to win. You seek to dominate. Because you deserve to be as good as you can be.
- If you want to be a great leader you must carry the water. Do the little things. Grab the ball bag. Pick up the trash. Be the example in the small moments, not just when you are standing on the podium. Assume someone is watching you all the time.
- We all want to know we are valued. So, treat people the right way. Be a team player. Be optimistic and positive with people.
- You do not need to be the best in every aspect. Play to your strengths and understand your weaknesses. There is incredible strength in the vulnerability that comes from knowing that you do not know everything or that you are not the best in everything. It allows you to grow as a person and an elite performer.
- Be invincible even when you fail. It is OK to fail. What you really are doing is learning for the future.
- You are on the team for a reason. Be confident.
- Give back to your profession. You likely did not get to where you are without the help of others. Be there for the future generation and help pave the way for others to become even more successful.
A special thanks to Mia Hamm for sharing her insights and to WHO-TV reporter, Justin Surrency, for his work as the moderator of her talk. Hamm’s humble approach combined with an incredible work ethic and determination undoubtedly has made her not only a world-class athlete but also a world-class person.